And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.
Ezekiel 22:30 ESV
In exile, still, God declares “me you have forgotten” (Ezekiel 22:12), but the ultimate guilt is laid on the prophets and priests. They have acted selfishly (22:25) and presumptuously (22:26).
The irony is that these priests are so full of their own opinions that they fail to realise what they are doing. God’s accusation is that they “have done violence to my law”. To the extent that as church leaders we propound our own opinions and not God’s we are doing violence to his law. Yet it can be done in all sincerity, due to proud lives that fail to wait on God – we think we are speaking God’s word but we speak of ourselves.
The result is a whitewash – a thin veneer of superficial religion glossed over that which is insubstantial and godless – self centred and self serving. As a result of this failure of leadership the people fall away. The awful truth of the situation is expressed in verse 30 “I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land … but I found none.”
There are two requirements for this role: godliness and willingness.
Firstly, the man of God must listen to God, and God alone – not speaking of his own, but faithfully doing justice, and not violence to God’s law. As with Ezekiel, and Jeremiah before him, these men wait for God hear what he speaks regardless of what everyone around them is saying.
Secondly, the man of God must be willing, like Ezekiel and Jeremiah to speak into a society that rejects God’s law and in an environment where, for whatever the reasons, Christian leaders are speaking ‘of themselves’ and not faithfully speaking God’s word.
The young Samuel was told by God that if he faithfully spoke everything that God gave him to speak, without watering it down or changing it not a word would fall to the ground. This is the Hebrew concept that words ‘do things’ – they go from you, achieve their purpose and return, or just fall to the ground and fail.
The good news is that God is looking, seeking for those who will build up the wall and stand in the breach. The question to this generation is: are you listening, are you willing, am I?